Guidelines for writing a Dissertation Proposal

As a master’s or Ph.D. candidate, there is no way you can avoid writing a dissertation before the completion of your course. But before you write this, you would also need to submit a dissertation proposal. The dissertation proposal gives an outline of your research and tells how the actual work would look like. It should reflect the structure of the work you want to do.

Purpose of the dissertation proposal

The proposal's main objective is to provide a plan for your dissertation for your supervisor to critique. It consists of your project topic, abstract, introduction, purpose, work scope, methodology, literature review, and study's significance. Lots of the content in these would be modified during the main work.

Structure of your dissertation proposal

The dissertation proposal is structured, just like the main research work. If executed well, it can provide you with an outlook of your research. It can also tell you how extensive or not your research can go. And thanks to that, you can decide whether to continue the study or change the topic, considering the time you have at hand. Below is the structure of a research proposal.

  • Title

The title of your dissertation proposal may not be what you would use for the main work. You may find the need to make some changes in the wording as you proceed with the research. That notwithstanding, your title should commensurate with the research content. Also, the wording should comprise the scope of work.

  • Abstract

Not all proposals contain an abstract. However, there are cases where your instructor/supervisor may request it. The abstract is very short and briefly describes the research.

  • Introduction

The introduction is the opening chapter of your dissertation proposal. It is in this section that you introduce your topic and give a little background to it. This must include a brief basis for your research and its relevance in the academic or professional field. Don’t forget to mention previous research in the area and how your work would improve on them.

  • Research Questions or objectives

Coming up with research questions and the aim for it can be time-consuming. But you can make it easier by framing them around the main points of your research and objectives. Your question must also expose your scope of work. Bear in mind that these questions may change as you start your main study.

  • Literature review

The literature review is the section where you list all previous works you factored in your research. It can be sourced from the internet, journals, reviews, and books, among others. The sources and information you use in this section should be factual, vital, and relevant to your research field.

Research limitation

You should clearly state the limitations of your research. You start this by choosing a topic that is not very broad, with very little or no tendency to explore thoroughly. Even if that happens, state clearly, which aspects of your subject you will be researching. Providing a research limitation can save you from overstretching yourself.


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